Question 8


Dear Fr. Matthew ,
I am going to be a physician assistant, and was wondering about the prescription of birth control. Would it be immoral for me to prescribe it? What about if it is to be used to make a menstrual cycle more regular? What would I do in a situation where I would be called to prescribe birth control? 
Thanks, DS

Dear DS,

Your question about prescribing birth control pills was forwarded to me by Fr. Daniel McCaffrey. I am a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist practicing in Oklahoma City. I was reminded by a faithful priest about the Church's position on contraception and challenged, as my Penance, to research whether contraceptives are potentially abortifacient. In fact, they are. But more importantly, prescribing birth control pills or other forms of contraception for non-contraceptive reasons is just not good medicine.

In your example, for instance, of "regulating menstrual cycles" there is an underlying medical condition which causes abnormal cycles and deserves diagnosis. This is true for every potential use for contraceptives. Making a proper diagnosis from the outset prevents years of side-effects, symptoms and potentially life-threatening illness. Refusing to prescribe them leads to a better understanding of medicine and a more holistic approach to patient care. I can testify personally, that despite excellent medical training, I did not truly learn gynecology and obstetrics until I took the time to learn Natural Family Planning, and the Billings Ovulation Method in particular. Not only is it 99.5% effective (WHO and Chinese Health Ministry data) in delaying or preventing pregnancy, but its diagnostic significance makes prescribing contraceptives totally unnecessary.

I would urge your client to become familiar with NFP and the growing number of physicians and health care practitioners who do not prescribe or sterilize. A great resource is One More Soul , and the book Physicians Healed. OMS has a listing of all NFP-only providers with contact information. Practicing according to our faith is a liberating and extremely rewarding experience. There are daily affirmations for those who have the courage to do so.

Mary W. Martin, M.D.,FACOG
Renaissance Physicians
Midwest City, OK 73130